There's a lot to be enamored with about the West Coast — beautiful beaches, perfect weather and a fun-loving attitude to name a few — but the things we might love the most are all the choice theme parks in California.
If you're trying to plan a family vacation your kids will remember forever, try hitting one (or all!) of these seriously awesome amusement parks.
1. Best amusement park roller coaster
Six Flags Magic Mountain
26101 Magic Mountain Parkway, Valencia
Whether it's the more than 200-foot drop into a hole in the ground or the complete stop, leaving you hanging on your side above the ground, Six Flags Magic Mountain's Goliath is known as one of the best roller coasters in California. For the best experience, wait the extra few minutes for the front seat.
2. Best theme park thrill ride
Knott's Berry Farm
8039 Beach Boulevard, Buena Park
Be warned — the Knott’s Berry Farm Supreme Scream ride has been categorized as a level 5 “Aggressive Thrill.” If that doesn’t deter you, then get ready for the ride of your life. Located on the park's boardwalk, the 45-second ride hits a top speed of 50 mph as it propels riders 252 feet straight up into the air, where you will experience three seconds of weightlessness before being plummeted back to earth. We recommend riding this thriller before lunch.
3. Best theme park for families
Disneyland & Disney's California Adventure
1313 Harbor Boulevard, Anaheim
The "happiest place on earth" offers two great amusement parks for every member of your family. With baby centers that include facilities for diaper changing, nursing and bottle feeding throughout Disneyland, Disney's California Adventure and the Downtown Disney District, visitors young and old can have fun with the comforts of home while hanging with the Disney family of characters.
4. Best amusement park for adults
Universal Studios Hollywood
100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City
Hollywood magic is brought to life when you get a VIP pass to Universal Studios' movie-based theme park. Although there are attractions and shows for every age, this amusement park is best suited for teens and adults due to loud noises, high action and life-like special effects. Heads up: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is the big attraction coming in spring 2016.
Next Up: Best water park
Originally published June 2011. Updated July 2017.
5. Best water park
111 Raging Waters Drive, San Dimas
Nestled inside the Frank G. Bonelli Regional Park's boundaries, Southern California's largest water park is packed with seasonal water park fun. With a lazy river, rafting slides and body slides at every thrill level, water play areas and gentle water fun designed especially for babies and preschoolers, you can cool off while having a sizzling good time.
6. Best theme park for kids
One Legoland Drive, Carlsbad
This Lego-themed amusement park uses its famous plastic building blocks everywhere they can, including their rides. Legoland offers fun for older and younger visitors, but is best for families with kids ages 4 to 9 years old.
7. Best amusement park for teens
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
2001 Marine World Pkwy., Vallejo, CA 94589
Take thrilling roller coasters, wild animals and marine life, and you're guaranteed a day of fun. With thrill rides for the adventure seeker and family-friendly fun, you'll feel safe letting your teens spend time exploring the park on their own.
Quick tip: To save some dough while having some amusement park fun, pack your own picnic lunch. Many theme parks have a picnic area just outside the park, such as Disneyland's Downtown Disney, to allow visitors to eat their own fare. Just check out the websites of the seven best theme parks in California before you go and be prepared for some big-time fun!